The search dilemma: looking beyond Google’s third-party cookie death

30-second summary:

The majority of the 2018 revenue of 181.7 billion U.S. dollars came from advertising on Google Sites and its network sites. Even though the third-party cookie will be removed in 2023, Google still has a lot of first-party data from its 270+ products and services. The Trade Desk’s 20% drop in stock price is a clear indication of Google’s monopoly. Susan Dolan, a Google expert draws on her vast experience to detail the current search landscape, insight and predicts the future key themes that will emerge from the 3p cookie.

If you imagine search as a jungle gym then Google is the kingpin player. This is a fact that has been known for decades. We all know the drawbacks of autonomy, which is why regulation is now a necessity in the industry. Google announced it would eliminate third-party cookies starting in 2023. However, a lot can occur in one year. 2020 is a good example! Do you think cookies will disappear completely? You might be wrong. To share my years of web experience, I will dive into the depths to offer some insights, observations, and thoughts.

Google is, for once, a laggedgard

This regulatory move is necessary to end the Google monopoly and avoid more lawsuits, such as the antitrust one. It is also a step towards creating a “net-vironment” which feels less like a network and encourages transparency and equal search results.

However, Safari and Firefox had already defeated Google in 2019 and 2020. Safari had released the Safari Intelligent Tracking Prevention update (ITP) on March 23, 2020. Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection feature was launched in September 2019. It is designed to protect users against third-party tracking cookies, crypto miners, and other malicious software.

Google’s solution for user privacy

Google recently stated that it will no longer use identifiers. Google is creating a Privacy Sandbox to provide a fair compromise for publishers, advertisers, consumers and data access. It is designed to provide anonymity and still deliver results for publishers and advertisers. Privacy Sandbox will have the FLoC API, which can be used to help with interest-based ads. Google won’t use fingerprints or PII graphs based upon people’s email addresses. Google will adopt a Facebook-like model called “Lookalike audience”, which will group users for profiling.

That raised eyebrows? There’s more.

Do not be deceived. They still have an extensive spread of first-party information.

Google already has a wealth of individual, historical data that they have analyzed, predicted and mastered over time and across all their services and platforms. These statistics will give you an idea of the gravity of this situation:

Google offers 270+ products, services, and more than 246 million users in the US. (Source). Google Photos has more than one billion users (Source). Google Ads has more than 1.5 Billion users per month. (Source). According to Google statistics, Gmail had more than 2.9 billion users per month. (Source). Google’s expansion into Android has earned it 72 percent of the global smartphone market. (Source). Google sees over 3.5 billion searches each day, and more than 1.2 trillion per year (Source).

Google offers a nearly endless array of products, services and platforms.

Here’s a complete list of Google’s enormous umbrella.

Google's 270+ products, services, and platforms

Google PayData (over 2.9 million) Location Search history Credit/debit cards details shared by businesses on Google PayData Google servicesYour device microphoneMobile keyboard (Gboard)Apps downloaded from the Google Playstore that grant access toDevice cameras, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg

The Trade Desk stock fell 20% due to Google’s decision not to remove the third-party cookies

This incident is a reminder that no one should be able to have monopoly. The Trade Desk stock prices fell 20% after Google decided to remove 3p cookies. The Trade Desk is the largest demand side platform (DSP). Google’s decision to drop 3p cookies shocked The Trade Desk’s stock prices.

Google’s decision to not use PII also puts at risk The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0, which has over 50 million users.

Here are the words of Dave Pickles (The Trade Desk’s Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder),

“Unified ID 2.0” is a broad industry collaboration, which includes advertisers and publishers as well as all other players in the adtech ecosystem.

“UID allows us to have meaningful conversations with consumers and offer them the transparency that we have tried to provide for so long.”

Adweek’s March townhall saw publishers and advertisers bewildered by the mystery surrounding Google. Google refused to attend the event. This is a precarious industry and Google may use it to assert market dominance in its favor.

Cookies are our favorite food (but only when they’re served on a plate).

Cookies can be annoying as they leave crumbs all over the internet. This is how people feel about being tracked online, did you know?

72 percent feel that nearly everything they do online is being monitored by technology companies or advertisers. 81 percent believe that data collection has more risks than benefits.

These stats were originally obtained from Pew Research Center. However, the irony is that I discovered these stats on one Google blog.

In an effort to find out how to get rid of these cookies, or understand the largest cookie jar in the world, I looked at YouTube. YouTube has more than 1.9 billion active users per month. This link will show you how ads are customized for you. The list is extensive!

Further, my YouTube curiosity led me to this page. Here you can see how cookies are shared. You can opt out. Imagine how many websites are accessing your data now that even my least-used account has 129 websites.

When I cracked the Page rank algorithm in 2011, I could sense the power of Google and the direction this giant was heading. The playground was just not big enough.

The key themes that will emerge

The cookie death is opening conversations about transparency in advertising and a web-verse that’s user-first and privacy compliant. Here are my predictions for the future of search and digital sphere.

Ethical consumer targetingAdtech companies collaborating to find ways that respect their audience’s privacyA more private, personalized webMore conversations around how much and what data collection is ethicalMore user-led choicesRise in the usage of alternative browsersIncentivizing users to voluntarily share their dataBetter use of technology for good

What are your thoughts on the current internet climate? Get in touch with me @GoogleExpertUK to continue the conversation.

Susan Dolan, a Search Engine Optimization Consultant, was the first to break the Google PageRank algorithm. This was confirmed by Eric Schmidt’s office back in 2014. Susan is also the CEO at The Peoples Hub, which was created to help people love the planet.

Search Engine Watch: The Search Dilemma: Looking beyond Google’s third party cookie death Search Engine Watch.

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